APAture Spotlight



Who are your film inspirations or what films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?

Dreams by Akira Kurosawa will always be close to my heart. The film is so gorgeously poetic as it carries these small vignettes. The metaphors, the symbolism, the beauty of each shot and composition. Although my work thus far is vastly different in style, Kurosawa is always in my mind while making any film. Particularly his use of nature and the spiritual world. In Kurosawa’s work, nature feels like the bridge to the spirit world, as if we are always on the edge between our reality and what lies beyond. This overwhelming feeling is very inspiring to me and reminds me of the power and potential of cinema.

Was there a particular time or event that you recognized that filmmaking was not just a hobby, but something you wanted to actively pursue?

Not long ago, I was a resident for about 4 years at the Artists’ Television Access at 992 Valencia St in San Francisco. My time there was immensely inspiring and shaped a lot of how I think about cinema. I got to soak up all the art that came through the space, met so many talented and amazing people in the community, and became close with my mentor Craig Baldwin. Living in this magical space I was able to endlessly experiment and develop my own vision, even though I may not have been so aware of it at the time. It was here at ATA that I realized cinema is an art form that embraces and is built upon all methods of creation, and that I wanted to dive head first into it.

As an Iranian Japanese American filmmaker who makes films related to your background, what drives and inspires you to tell your own story? What are the kinds of stories you wish to tell?

Being a first-generation American, I've never really felt grounded in any one culture. I can't speak Farsi, my Japanese is pretty weak, but I've always felt a connection to these cultures in ways that are hard to put into words. What I have found in my own work is a sense to claim an identity, to build and become part of a rich and kaleidoscopic American identity. By making films about my family’s history I'm trying to get closer to a sense of myself. I wish to tell stories of human connection and resilience, of journeys that span generations, and of a diverse and dynamic American experience.

What is the most valuable thing you get out of filmmaking? What makes a film successful to you?

I find filmmaking to be incredibly challenging and rewarding. It is a process of constant discovery that never seizes to amaze me. Yet, success of a film is very difficult to nail down since each film is different and our experiences are so subjective. I am attracted to films that reach the soul, that evoke a state of being, that remind me of what it means to be human. This may seem vague, but cinema can achieve these things in so many different ways. That’s why I love filmmaking.

What is your advice to aspiring filmmakers who are looking into directing and producing shorts, especially those in the AAPI community?

Always experiment. Try things out without worrying about the end product. Carry a camera with you everywhere and shoot constantly. Carry a notebook and pen with you and write everyday. Write what’s happening around you. Write what you think and feel. Go out and meet people. Be a part of and engage with your community. If we engage, we can build. If we build, we can grow.


What are the interconnected threads we wish to investigate and untangle? What is there to discover when we unravel?

Watch some of Cyrus Tabar's films at the APAture 2017 Film Showcase happening Thursday, October 12, 7-10PM at Z Space
Watch the Film Reel for the showcase too!

Make sure to also take a look at the other showcases for APAture 2017!

Jason Bayani